Iran is in advanced stages of trying to attain enriched uranium for use in atomic weapons, according to the head of army intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi (Farkash).
If it is not stopped, Iran will be capable of producing its own enriched uranium within six months, Ze'evi told an audience at the University of Haifa on Tuesday night.
He maintained that with this capability, Iran would be able to produce its first nuclear bomb by 2008 to 10 - an event that would likely cause a domino effect in countries in the Middle East.
Ze'evi spoke at a seminar entitled "2005 - A Year of change in the MIddle East" that was organized by the university's National Security Studies Center headed by Prof. Gabriel Ben-Dor.
He noted that Iran, in parallel to its nuclear program, has been developing ballistic missiles and that its Shihab 3 rocket has sufficient range to reach the heart of Israel.
On a different subject, Ze'evi spoke of the election of new Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and the likely changes that this could bring.
He maintained that the death of former chairman Yasser Arafat has created a real opportunity to change the reality that has existed until now.
It will, however, take time and patience, and the Palestinian leadership will not easily relinquish Arafat's vision, Ze'evi noted. Furthermore, there were those who doubted Abbas's ability to bring about and implement the changes and his own policies.
Ze'evi said that Abbas would probably not attempt to confront extremists or disarm organizations but would most likely try to persuade the Palestinian people that terror is not the way to achieve political goals.
He said the motivation among radical groups to continue terrorist operations remains high but their capabilities have been reduced and they are finding it harder to actually carry out attacks.
Overall, Ze'evi anticipated that 2005 would be a year of opportunity for regional powers and that it was likely that more crises would be resolved through negotiations.
In this respect, he noted that Syria under President Bashar Assad appeared to be turning its back on the so-called Axis of Evil and that the young leader was looking more to negotiations to achieve his country's goals.